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Why I Feel Conflicted About Down Syndrome Awareness Month

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It’s already October, and my world is flooded with information about Down Syndrome Awareness Month. A whole entire month for me to help you be aware of Down syndrome? Wow.

Kate Taylor.2-001

I’m conflicted. What exactly should you be aware of? I could post some cute pictures of adorable little babies. But people with Down syndrome aren’t babies forever. And no adult is ever as cute as a new little baby. I could post an article about a young adult with Down syndrome who was voted the homecoming queen or who was allowed to run with the ball for a touchdown. Then we can all pat ourselves on the back for our magnanimous efforts. 

I could scold you for your choice of words to describe people and remind you to “spread the word to end the word.” (In case you were wondering, it’s the R-word.)

I can wear colorful mismatched socks to draw attention, although I’m still not sure why.

We can even raise money for our choice of Buddy Walks all over the country. And while I fully support raising money for local Down syndrome organizations, my daughter, Ellie, is not growing up to be your “buddy.” And while it’s cute when you’re 3, I have a hard time with terminology that implies people with Down syndrome are just cute little kids. Kids eventually turn into adults who need to be respected and given opportunities.

So I guess I’m not there. I don’t want a whole month, and I don’t want to be limited to a month, either.

I don’t want Ellie to be your inspiration because she has Down syndrome. I want her to be your inspiration because she is Ellie. And she is flourishing in who she was meant to be.

Originally published: October 10, 2015
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